Unfortunately, food security is not a luxury that every person in the US experiences. In fact, Feeding America suggests that 89% of households with children are food insecure, according to a 2014 study. If you’re curious, Feeding America also has a map function that visually displays food security rates across the country and, more specifically, in your community. Check it out here.
As a child care provider, it can fall within your responsibility to stay up-to-date on the food programs offered to both children and adults, as well as execute program elements in whatever capacity is appropriate for your facility. In fact, food programs for daycares can actually be highly beneficial to your overall operation, allowing you to work in tandem with government agencies to reduce food insecurity and receive reimbursement for food costs incurred.
As an organization ourselves, we decided back in 2011 to partner with Revolution Foods to provide nutritious food to children that were in preschool. This allowed us to work with an agency to contribute to reducing food insecurity and further our mission: to increase the capacity and quality of early care and education (ECE) providers that serve a high number of low-income families. To learn more about this partnership, visit our blog here.
When considering applying for and implementing a food program for your child care center, there are a few different programs that you should know about and consider.
Child And Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
For some children and adults within the US, it can be hard to get consistent access to quality foods. As a result, the federal government has implemented The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
The CACFP provides reimbursements for meals provided to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at qualifying facilities: child care centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers. Other areas where these reimbursements can be provided include after-school care programs, children residing in emergency shelters, and adults over the age of 60 or living with a disability and enrolled in daycare facilities, according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
As a child care or adult day care center, there are some parameters that you must meet in order to qualify for these reimbursements through the CACFP.
Program requirements include:
- Current license
- Array of nutritious meals are served (these must meet USDA requirements)
- Accurate attendance records
- Maintenance of daily menu records
- Continuous staff education
The CACFP does provide ample resources, from handbook to training guides to nutrition education so that you, as child care or adult care provider, can make choices that are best for you and those you care for.
While this may seem like quite a bit of administrative work in order to qualify for the program’s reimbursement, building these requirements into your standard operating procedures with the use of an easy record keeping tool will make the process much more seamless to the point where it’s just another daily task.
Ultimately, the main goal of the program is to provide children and adults with the nutrition they need in instances where it might otherwise be difficult for them to receive quality food.
The Fresh Fruit And Vegetable Program (FFVP)
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) is another program that is offered by the United States’ federal government in partnership with state and local agencies in order to mitigate the amount of food insecurity for students in the way of fresh fruits and vegetables, a vital element of nutritious eating habits.
THE FFVP provides free fresh fruits and vegetables to children at elementary schools during the day. This means that daycare centers are not eligible for this particular program.
When applying, the following information is required:
- The total number of enrolled children;
- The percentage of children certified as eligible for free and reduced-price meals;
- Certification of support for the participation of the FFVP signed by the school food service manager, school principal, and the district superintendent (or similar positions, depending on the facility)
- Program implementation plan that outlines a variety of elements, including efforts to integrate the FFVP with other efforts that the center is making to promote childhood health and nutrition.
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School Breakfast Program (SBP)
Some children don’t have the resources as home to receive a nourishing meal to start the day. Enter: the School Breakfast Program (SBP).
The SBP is a federal meal program that operates through both public and private facilities to provide quality food to children. While there are some qualifying factors before a facility is able to provide the SBP. Generally, the institutions that can partake in the program are public or nonprofit private schools of high school grade or under and public or nonprofit private residential child care institutions, according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
Special Milk Program (SMP)
According to the USDA, 3,848 schools and residential child care institutions participated in the Special Milk Program (SMP), along with 782 summer camps and 527 non‐residential child care institutions in 2011.
The program works to either subsidize or provide entirely free milk for any child at participating facilities.
For more information, click here.
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
Many food programs for children are implemented in schools and related child care facilities, which means that for the majority of the year, these programs can benefit children 5 days of the week. However, when school is not in session for the summer, the concern for children’s food security increases. This is the purpose of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
Through the SFSP, children and teens in low-income areas have the opportunity to visit participating providers for free healthy meals. These participating providers, as a result of offering this service, are reimbursed for the food costs incurred.
Some common sites for the SFSP include schools, parks, community centers, health clinics, hospitals, apartment complexes, churches, and migrant centers.
Are you looking for more child care management information? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Child Care Management.
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Header image courtesy of Jumpstory.